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Stratum plus. 2019. No6

A. O. Lapushkina (Moscow, Russian Federation)

Through the Prism of Avatime Tradition (Ghana): from childhood to adulthood

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Pages: 381-393

Anthropologist Lynne Brydon has lifted the veil from the Avatime region (Eastern Ghana), initiating historical and socio-cultural research since 1970s. The Avatime language is tonal, therefore, mostly linguists were primarily interested in the region. In pursue to describe and write down the oral tradition of becoming an adult (rites of passage) in vividly changing Avatime society, I became a second cultural anthropologist in that region. The article deals with such a historical/cultural phenomenon as childhood and such institute of socialization as initiation rite in the Avatime culture. Traditionally the future model of behavior was “fixed” by the individual through initiation, depending on gender role in society. This ritual allowed individual to become a member of the community by transition to adulthood. However, only female rite is preserved and practiced today among the Avatime, since the male rite associated with initiation into warriors has ceased to be relevant in modern peaceful life. “Motherhood” role is still in demand in comparison with irrelevant to today’s context warrior status of men. I examine the etymology of concepts in the Avatime language (Sideme), the historical context, the transformation of the attitude to the newborn’s sex, as well as the tradition of naming. My first expedition to the former British Togoland took place in 2011, thanks to the help of the Russian-Moldovan Vinokurov family of missionaries, who by 2006 had made up the alphabet for Avatime and continued the tradition of literacy classes. The article is based on field materials collected during 8 years of work with respondents from the small-scale society of Avatime and Ghana as a whole.

Keywords: Western Africa, Avatime, pre-colonial time, 21th century, traditional society, anthropology of childhood, rite of passage, social memory

Information about author:

Alina Lapushkina
(Moscow, Russian Federation). International Center of Anthropology, National Research University Higher School of Economics. Staraya Basmannaya St., 21/4, Moscow, 127051, Russian Federation; Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Spiridonovka St., 30/1, Moscow, 123001, Russian Federation; Russian State University for the Humanities. Spiridonovka St., 30/1, Moscow, 123001, Russian Federation
E-mail: [email protected]

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